Greg Johnson, an influential theorist with a doctorate in philosophy from Catholic University of America, argues that “Christianity is one of the main causes of white decline” and a “necessary condition of white racial suicide.” Johnson edits a website that publishes footnoted essays on topics that range from H. P. Lovecraft to Martin Heidegger, where a common feature is its subject’s criticisms of Christian doctrine. “Like acid, Christianity burns through ties of kinship and blood,” writes Gregory Hood, one of the website’s most talented essayists. It is “the essential religious step in paving the way for decadent modernity and its toxic creeds.”
Against Christianity it makes two related charges. Beginning with the claim that Europe effectively created Christianity—not the other way around—it argues that Christian teachings have become socially and morally poisonous to the West. A major work of alt-right history opens with a widely echoed claim: “The introduction of Christianity has to count as the single greatest ideological catastrophe to ever strike Europe.”
All cultures are unique, but some are more unique than others. “We men of the Western culture are an exception,” Spengler claims. At the heart of his book is an interpretation of the culture he named “Faustian,” a term widely used in the intellectual circles of the alt-right. As with all cultures, a single idea permeates the arts and sciences of the West. Its distinctive mark is an intense striving for “infinity.” According to Spengler, our culture has uniquely sought to see all things in relation to the highest or most distant horizons, which, in turn, it seeks to surpass and extend. The vaults of medieval cathedrals, the discovery of perspective in painting, the exploration of the New World, the development of orchestral music, the invention of the telescope and calculus—in Spengler’s story, all express the Faustian drive toward transcendence.
He arrives at this conclusion by claiming the West begins not with ancient Greece or Rome, but with the high Middle Ages and the birth of scholasticism, Gothic architecture, and polyphony. Here we have the springtime of a “new man and a new world”—and a new religion. Its cultural achievements are not testimonies to faith in God. They are the monuments of Faustian man’s attempt—in speculation, stone, glass, and sound—to propel himself into infinity. Of this aspiration, Spengler maintains, “the Gospels know nothing.”
The basic problem with modernity is “desacralization,” the collapse of spiritual meaning in daily life. Work, family, and citizenship are no longer saturated with spiritual importance, but are understood in functionally secular terms. “Man, like never before, has lost every possibility of contact with metaphysical reality,” Evola complains, because materialism “kills every possibility, deflects every intent, paralyzes every attempt” at living a higher spiritual life. Evola does not, however, call for a return to his ancestral faith. He calls instead for a rediscovery of a more primordial source of spiritual meaning. He referred to these perennial truths as “Tradition,” and he traced the disorders of modernity to our loss of contact with it. He did not date the fatal break to the Enlightenment or to the Reformation. No, the world had been slouching into spiritual poverty ever since the eighth century b.c., when the world of Tradition began to disappear.
Benoist’s case against Christianity is that it forbids the expression of this “Faustian” vitality. It does so by placing the ultimate source of truth outside of humanity, in an otherworldly realm to which we must be subservient. In his Church Dogmatics, Karl Barth notoriously described Christian revelation as the “abolition” of natural religion. Benoist is a Barthian, if selectively. He accuses Christianity of crippling our most noble impulses. Christianity makes us strangers in our own skin, conning us into distrusting our strongest intuitions. We naturally respect beauty, health, and power, Benoist observes, but Christianity teaches us to revere the deformed, sick, and weak instead. “Paganism does not reproach Christianity for defending the weak,” he explains. “It reproaches [Christianity] for exalting them in their weakness and viewing it as a sign of their election and their title to glory.”Under Christianity, the West lives under a kind of double imprisonment. It exists under the power of a foreign religion and an alien deity. Christianity is not our religion. It thereby foments “nihilism.” The allegation is explosive. Benoist means that Christianity renders Western culture morally lethargic and culturally defenseless. Most perniciously, its universalism poisons our attachments to particular loyalties and ties.
And here we reach Benoist’s remarkable conclusion. The decadent West has never been more Christian. Christianity imparted to our culture an ethics that has mutated into what the alt-right calls “pathological altruism.” Its self-distrust, concern for victims, and fear of excluding outsiders—such values swindle Western peoples out of a preferential love for their own.